Buddhist Theory of Causation and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

Buddhist Theory of Causation and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

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Item Code: NAC926
Author: Filita P. Bharucha
Publisher: Sri Satguru Publications
Edition: 1992
ISBN: 8170303311
Pages: 212
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0 Inch X 5.9 Inch
Weight 360 gm
About the Book

The present book deals with the Buddhist theory of Karma and Einstein’s theory of relativity. The book is divided into 7 chapters. Ch. 1 Problem of Causation; Ch. 2 Introduction to the Problem of Causation and Time-Symmetry in Physics; Ch. 3 The Methods of Modern Physics; Ch. 4 Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity; Ch. 5 Indian Treatment of Causation; Ch. 6 The Parallels; and Ch. 7 The Heterological Approach. The book contains detailed Bibliography, an Index and Illustrations.


I consider an acknowledgement as being ‘Catuskoti Vinirmukta’. However in spite of that I would like to say a few words of acknowledgement.

Firstly, I am grateful that Dr. S. Mudgal was willing to accept me as a Ph.D. research student in spite of the fact that I have chosen a topic in a field that is hardly recognized in this country. The inspiring discussions and patient guidance from him have helped a great deal in shaping this thesis.

I would also I thank Prof. Kamat (Head Department of Physics, St. Xavier’s College) for reading a major part of the thesis in the manuscript form and for having offered invaluable comments. I have definitely benefited by discussions with him on some topics contained in this thesis.

I think this dissertation may not have been what it is but for the assistance of the above mentioned persons.

I am grateful to the Physics Department, University of Bombay, particularly the Head, Dr. M.C. Joshi, Dr. A. Kumar and Dr. A. Rangwalla for having consented to my attending their postgraduate lecture courses in Physics. These courses proved immensely useful to me in my work reported in this thesis.

Miss Sarojine Garcia has been kind enough to assist me patiently throughout the typing of the rough as well as a part of the fair draft of the thesis. Also I would like to thank Mr. Joseph Vaz for his timely help in typing the major part of the fair thesis in very good time. It was the quick and efficient work of artist Mr. Suresh Mhatre that resulted in clear Xerox copies, photo bromides and charts.

Lastly but not the least I thank all those people who have contributed (directly or indirectly) to this dissertation-especially many thanks to D.B.

“And the gratitude of the philosopher goes to this great physicist whose work includes more implicit philosophy than is contained in many a philosophical system.”

“Anirodham anutpannam”


What I call ‘Philosophy’ cannot be expressed or discussed, learnt or taught.

The medium of its communicability may or may not be tapped.

What we shall discuss here I call as ‘Metaphilosophy’.


Firstly the question arises, “In which field does this dissertation fall?” Clearly as the title implies the fields of relativity physics and Buddhist philosophy are involved. However in the last conclusive chapter 1 have made by own suggestions. These involve certain ideas from the fields of mathematics and logic. Perhaps universities in the West may classify this dissertation as falling within the scope of “Philosophy of Science”.

It is possible that the title may imply that I am trying to draw metaphysical conclusions from a theory which belongs solely to formal science. However this is not the case. This dissertation is an attempt to study two important but widely apart theories. It may be argued that since the theories are so dynamically different in nature, scope, as well as methodology, how can one compare them at all? Once again I assert that this is not a comparison. I thought it would be interesting to select a theory from the world of ancient philosophy and study it along a parallel slant with one of the revolutionary theories of the 20th century. But then why have I selected these two theories in particular? The answer lies in the following facts:

(1) According to me, the Buddhist theory has a revolutionary way of looking at the idea of Karma.

(2) Einstein’s theory has also brought about an unprecedented change in the ideas of causality.

The thesis should be read keeping in mind the following lines stated by H. Reichenbach “There are many who have contributed to the philosophy of Einstein’s theory, but there is only one Einstein”.

The early part of the thesis discusses the problem of causality in general. The first chapter introduces the problem along with a historical survey of the views of prominent philosopher right from the days of the early Greeks. Then one arrives at the contemporary scene through the historical heritage of Kant and Hume.

The next two chapters are solemnly dedicated to discussing the problem of causality as well as time-symmetry in physics. Clearly this involves a discussion on the method of modern physics and its limitations in the context of the development of micro-physics.

The fourth chapter outlines the theory of special relativity as per Einstein’s treatment. Clearly only those details relevant to our thesis are emphasised.

These chapters result in our finding that time, speed, causality, are all related.

The fifth chapter deals entirely with the Buddhist conception of Karma. I have outlined the Madhyamika dectrine of Sunyata in detail as it occupies a central role in this thesis.

This chapter leads us to find that Buddhist analysis of causality (Karma) results in the realitivity of time, space and Karma. Hence problem of parallels between disparate systems arises.

In the sixth chapter the locus is on trying to suggest and explore the relevance of the Buddhist theory in context of modern physics.

Undoubtedly this chapter will give rise to certain controversial issues. However that is expected of most new suggestions in fields that are in an embryonic stage.

However it is the last chapter that I hope will appear most interesting as it contains the seeds of the problems that I would like to take up as part of a later research programme. In this chapter I have tried to introduce a new “hetero-kind” of logic which would perhaps help us to resolve some of the contradictions which beset not only fields like quantum mechanics but perhaps also the mystic. A causal continuum based on topological ideas has been suggested.

The reader is requested to note that no diacritical marks are made for Sanskrit words. Also these papers considered chapter wise are numbered in black ink, while the total serial numbering of all the pages included in the thesis are marked in red ink.

This introduction can be concluded best in Whitehead’s words: “The true method of philosophical construction is to frame a scheme of ideas, the best we can and unflinchingly explore the interpretation of experience in term of that scheme.”


1.Problem of Causation1
2.Introduction to the Problem of Causation and Time-Symmetry in Physics29
3.The Methods of Modern Physics61
4.Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity77
5.Indian Treatment of Causation97
6.The Parallels133
7.The Heterological Approach157
8.General Bibliography175
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